TAMPA — I distinctly remember the moment I fell in love with hockey.
I was 10 years old at my first game between Boston College and Boston University. It's an intense rivalry BC's Conte Forum was crazy when the game was close in the third period.
My sister and I were too short to see over the people standing in front of us, so we climbed the railing behind us. I screamed myself silly. I don't even remember the result. A quick search justifies the emotion I remember, though, BC came back from a 4-0 deficit and forced a tie with a goal in the final minute.
I was hooked.
Being the Tampa Bay Times' Lightning writer is a dream job for me. Even if at 10, I didn't know anything about the Lightning or the Times.
My first impression of Tampa came in 2012, when I covered the Frozen Four at Amalie Arena. I didn't see much of the city, but was struck by the way a Florida city hosted a hockey tournament (and that it's hard to decide what to wear when you're walking in 90-degree weather to get to a cold hockey rink).
That is still my impression. When I interviewed for the job, sports editor Mike Sherman told me the Bucs were still the most popular team (as the NFL is everywhere), but you see more Lightning gear around town. That was one of the first things I noticed when I arrived two weeks ago.
There are a lot more "Go Bolts" signs hanging in bar windows and more Lightning T-shirts on the Riverwalk. My neighbors have Lightning Adirondack chairs on their balcony, and I wonder if they might be custom because I don't see them online (though to be fair, I did a lazy search).
I love hockey and telling stories. You guys love the Lightning. So this seems like a good match.
I want to give readers an inside look at the team, not just what it's doing on the ice but who it is off the ice, too. Together we can get to know some of the people around the team we don't see much of, as well as the ones you already love. I'll bring you guys with me as I explore other NHL cities.
I'd love to hear from you, the readers, on what you'd like to see. Reach out to me on Twitter (@dianacnearhos) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we can get to know each other.